Over at the IP Asset Maximizer Blog, guest blogger Scott Garrison provides a dramatic story of wasted IP within a large corporation. Basically, after spending a large sum of money for IP in a breakthrough area, a major corporation took a series of missteps that eroded much of the value of the acquired patents. Ultimately, they had to give royalty-free licenses for the technology. The disaster came as a result of multiple parties taking independent steps without communicating with each other, and without central oversight and strategy. Garrison wisely suggests that a Chief IP Officer would have helped.
In addition, our experience suggests that when there is a moribund lack of communication between entities that ought to be communicating, there may be cultural and other issues that also need to be corrected. Sometimes fixing the org chart by adding central oversight isn't enough. We have found that Value Network Analysis can be an extremely useful tool in mapping out the exchanges of intangibles (knowledge, tips, informal communication, relationships, trust, loyalty, etc.) as well as tangibles (required reports, funds, formalized exchanges) that define the ecosystem -- in this case, the internal ecosystem. When healthy networks of intangible exchanges do not exist between parties such as business units and legal departments, steps must be taken to nurture the ecosystem and to help create stronger ties, better information exchange, and alignment of objectives and goals. When the ecosystem becomes healthy, a lot of things happen that make the corporation look a lot smarter than it used to be.